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Monday, September 29, 2014

What's bigger than the both of us?

... AN ELEPHANT, of course.

In looking through my "SAVE" files, I noticed a handful of clippings on elephants. My delusional thought: "Hmm... maybe I'll use this one day." Well guess what? Today is the day!


There is no animal on earth that has the majesty and presence of the elephant. Elephants are socially, a lot like us. They cry, play and laugh! They have incredible memories (really), are sensitive and compassionate... if a baby cries, the entire family will rumble and go over to comfort it. Elephants have greeting ceremonies when a friend returns.  They rejoice at the birth... and grieve at the loss of a stillborn baby, a family member, and sometimes, other elephants.

These magnificent creatures are unbelievably more awesome in the wild than demeaned in a zoo or circus. It's just them in their element and you, literally face to face. I've been surrounded by a large herd which walked around our stalled Land Rover... making for a few really uncomfortable, but incredible moments. I was at the rear, seated highest out of the vehicle when a large male stopped and stared at me from about six feet--I could almost touch his trunk... and vice versa-- for what seemed like minutes... then, walked on.

While elephants have no natural predators, they are terrified of... no, not mice... they are terrified of bees, which tend to sting around their eyes and inside their trunks. Recently, scientists have recorded a distinctive call, or "bee rumble" that is used to warn others of swarming bees. When the recording was then broadcast to other herds, some of the elephants fled, even shaking their heads as if to deflect bees.

If you are ever chased by an elephant, you should know that elephants do not run. They can't lift four legs off the ground at the same time. Moving their legs as fast as they can, they break into a brisk walk. However, don't get too comfortable. That brisk walk is still about 11 miles per hour. The average human running speed is perhaps 13 mph... but they know the territory. So your best bet is to stop, make friends and tell a funny elephant story, like:

Guy goes into a snack shop specializing in exotic sandwiches. Sign on the wall says, "We can make any sandwich you want." So the smart-alec customer winks at his buddy and orders an elephant ear sandwich. Snack shop guy says sadly, "Uh, we haven't got elephant ear sandwiches today." Customer says with glee... "No elephant ears, huh?" "Oh, no, that's not the problem." says the shop guy. "We are just out of the big buns."

Whoops! bad choice of stories. Instead:  What’s the difference between a dozen eggs and an elephant? If you don’t know, I’m sure not going to send you to the store for a dozen eggs!

Oh, my God, is he still chasing you? Last chance: What is the difference between a tavern and an elephant's fart? One is a bar room and... are your ready?... the other is a BAROOOM!

SQUASH! (Sorry.)

No, this is not Oklahoma, but it will show you who is in control

Not a joke: An Oklahoma couple on the way home from church ran into an elephant... literally. "I didn't have time to hit the brakes, so I swerved," said the driver as he sideswiped the 8-foot-tall, 4,500 pound beast which had just gotten loose from a circus. No animal was hurt in the making of this story.

My favorite fictional elephants: Babar, Horton and Dumbo, of course.  My jumbo tip of the day: Read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen... tons better than the movie.

PS: Yeah, published in 2011 but I liked it this much (---------------------------------------------)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What five-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?







 WORDS... you gotta love 'em because how else could we say stuff?

I know, very lame, but if you love to read and write, you can easily fall in love with the perfect words when you see them.

There is an award-winning documentary, Wordplay , that features NYTimes crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz on their making and solving. Lotta fun if you love words, even if you can't work those NYTimes weekend puzzles.

The Washington Post (thank you for the photo use)  has an annual word contest for the best made-up definitions to real words. This year's winners included:

– Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
– Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
– Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
– Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
– Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
– Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

This year, 5,000 new words made it into the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary... words like Qajaq, a palindrome full of big score letters (a kayak, as if you didn't know) and ayaya (a type of singing, but everyone knows that) and qulliq, which is, of course, obvious, right?

And BTW, there is now a Scrabble-playing robot that not only can beat you but talks smack. "I am the current king of Scrabble, Victor the Mechanical Marvel. That's Victor the brilliant for short." When losing, he could say, "If I had a dollar for every good word I played, I would still hate you."

Great! That's just what this world needs, a robot jerk.

Then there are the creative baby names. There is Apple Blyth and Peaches Honeyblossom, Fifi, Trixibelle and Little Pixie, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lilly, North "Nori" West, Sabbath Page, Zowie, Seven Sirius Benjamin and Blanket. These are real celebrity children names.

Everyone knows Salonpas, Topiaz, Xarelto, Prolia, Xeljan, Fluticasone, Bremabecestat, Gedatolisib, Lulumab pegol, Nexbolizumab Uprosertib Orilotimod, etc... the names you see in the drug aisle of any pharmacy and in many television commercials. These are all made-up names courtesy of the manufacturer... and they have to follow all the rules of drug made-up names. Can you believe doctors have to know all this stuff?

Great words are used in pick-up lines: "If I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" and "I must be Lightning McQueen 'cause you've got my heart racing."

But the best words are the clever ones. British politician Michael Foot was put in charge of a nuclear-disarmament committee and the news item carried the headline: "Foot Heads Arms Body"

Bennett Cerf, a pretty sharp critic and poet from the early days of television,  was always noted for great word use:

The Detroit String Quartet played Brahms last night. Brahms lost.

Gross ignorance is 144 times worse than ordinary ignorance.

Mary had a swarm of bees
And they, to save their lives,
Went everywhere that Mary went,
'Cause Mary had the hives.

Schubert had a horse named Sarah
He took her to a big parade
And all the while the band was playing
Schubert's Sarah neighed.


And my favorite:

Shake and shake the catsup bottle
None'll come, and then alot'll


PS: This is my 400th blog post. Who would'a thought... Oh, and in the headline, "What word becomes shorter if you add two letters to it... answer is "short." Now don't you feel silly?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Fruitcake Idea: One simple step to a balanced budget--GUARANTEED!

Fruitcake: the gift that lasts a lifetime

Ho-Ho-Ho, the longest shopping season of the year has officially begun, and I'm not talking Hanukkah. It's still summer and I just saw my first Christmas ad on T.V... a really clever 'subliminal' spot  by Wal-Mart. Really! You'll see it, I'm sure.

But this isn't about that. It is about balancing our national budget. I can't believe how utterly simple it will be... and it won't cost any of us one cent more than we will spend anyway. We will do it in just two years if we start now. Blow your mind? It should.

Wall Street Journal feature writer, Joe Queenan for President, please. He notes that returned goods cost U.S. retailers $267.3 billion last year in lost revenue. Yeah, enough that if Returned Goods, Inc. was a real company, it would rank Number 3 on the Fortune 500 list, behind  only Wall-Mart (of course) and Exxon.

Now here's the deal: if you, grandma Jones, Aunt Anna, your next-door neighbor and everybody doesn't return that fruitcake, or the bad tie, the windshield ice-scraper with a mitten attached, the shoe shine kit or anything for the next two years, so many problems are solved effortlessly. Don't take back that bridesmaid dress or the jumbo T.V. just purchased for the Superbowl and then returned to Best Buy. Don't take back ANYTHING! So you re-gift, ok? Uncle Herman has been freezing his fingers to the bone scraping ice off  his windshield... and if that's not amazing enough, Uncle Herman lives in Miami.

That means every retail sale is good and $267.3 billion is a real gain because it has already been spent... and every business prospers and hires more workers and the Dow Jones tops 25,000 and Social Security is fixed and the unemployment rate is down below 4 percent and all teachers get raises and education prospers at all levels and the Cubs win the pennant and... and... and...

I call it the Fruitcake Movement... a win-win kind of thing. And it is soooo simple. OK?


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dumb lawsuits, dumb crooks, dumb games, dumb everything




Darneded if you do, darned if you don't, but really, darned if you mess with Kanye West.

Now I'm not one to feel Weird Al Yankovic is really weird... anyone who can top the Billboard charts with his new comedy album Mandatory Fun (first time that has happened in 50 years) has to be pretty sharp, but then again...

Why would he not wrap his arms around Kanye for supplying wonderful new parody ideas?

Weird Al says, in 2006, Kanye threatened to sue me because I DID parody his song "Gold Digger."

This year he DIDN'T parody anything from Kanye... and Kanye DID sue him for $20 million claiming "severe mental distress" for not being parodied.

All this played out in a Rolling Stone article and The Daily Currant comments:

West claims the omission from Yankovic's album has caused him to "barely find to strength and focus to work on his genius music."

"I just can't comprehend how anyone can parody music album without including the greatest solo artist that's ever lived," West told Rolling Stone magazine.

"Yeezus (Kanye's latest) is the greatest album of all time. To parody Pharell is just foolish. Pharell is a parody of himself. Have you seen his hat? That hat alone is an offense to fashion and I know fashion. I'm the greatest fashion designer of all time."

"Not since Malcolm X has someone been persecuted like this."

As Weird Al's album soars to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, Kanye couldn't help but be Kanye. He tweeted, "If it wasn't for my lawsuit @AlYankovic wouldn't be #1. I turn everything to gold. I even turn water to gold. I am gold."

Shame on you Weird Al, for not using great material. (Or, is Kanye the smart one getting all the press?) Good luck with the lawsuit.


Now about the dumb cattle rustlers: Or how many cows can you fit in a car?


The answer is four... one wedged between the front and back seat, facing forward--presumably helping drive--and three on the folded-down back seat and trunk of the Proton, a Malaysian car about the size of a Honda Civic.

That's what the shifty Australian cattle rustlers used to make their bold get-away. And it worked... except the darned car broke down with all the weight and the rustlers had to run away singing Come a ki yi yippee yippee yi yippee yay,  Come a ki yi yippee yippee yay ... likeWoody Guthrie in his Chisholm Trail song.

I guess cattle rustlers today aren't of the same breed as in the Old West. (By the way, all cows ok... but just cant stop talking about their excellent adventure.)


So how about a new Olympic Sport, maybe?

That's the thought in India as Kabaddi has swept the nation selling out stadiums and drawing big  T.V. Ratings.  Kabaddi is a mix of tag and Greco-Roman wrestling played by two seven-men teams in basketball-like jerseys on a court about tennis-sized.

It's sort-of like dodge ball for grown-ups. Players called raiders attempt to tag opponents and get back to their own side of the court without getting tackled. If they succeed, the tagged players are 'out' and the raider's team gets a point. If the raider gets tackled, then that team gets a point.

What makes it more interesting? The raiders have to hold their breath the whole time they are in enemy territory running around trying to tag the guy with the ball. To show they are not sneaking a breath, they must continually yell "Kabaddi! Kabaddi! Kabaddi!" 

Didn't the Japanese have a game kinda like that where they said "Tora! Tora! Tora!"?

Monday, September 8, 2014

We are sooo very sophisicated today.

Left: Non genetically altered raccoon. Right: The real thing.



Give me a tough-talking raccoon, a tree-like humanoid, a man stronger than an ox, a regular looking guy hero and of course, a beautiful girl in a very sexy tight-fitting outfit and you have The Guardians of the Galaxy, a top-draw movie these days.

And if that's not realistic enough for you, try the No. 2 draw, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles starring, among others, Whoopi Goldberg and of course, Lorenzo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael. Heros today are so different than Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey, Lash LaRue or The Lone Ranger.

Lash LaRue
I guess we can rest easier now that we know we are getting real. How naive we were to think a guy dressed in black wielding a bull whip could save anyone. I thought that image was dispelled in the first Indiana Jones Movie.

We are sooo more sophisticated than that.

And yet, we still don't know it all. Maybe that's why National Geo has introduced a new T.V. series on getting back to basics called Going Deep. It will feature big names such as Professor Shoelace who will teach us to tie shoes and other notables explaining how to make ice cubes, how to shake hands, how to climb a tree and how to light a match.

Actually, it probably will be fun to watch as it stars a funny David Rees offering a new take on things we take for granted, like how to dig a hole... or a grave. I know I'm watching. I do hope there is an episode on how to write cursive.

One is never too old to learn, right?